SWS: 4 out of 5 Filipinos say PH should form alliances with countries ready to defend territorial rights in West PH Sea

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 14) — A Social Weather Stations survey said Filipinos believe the country should ally with other nations who are prepared to defend their territorial rights in disputed waters.

The pollster asked 1,555 respondents what they thought of the following, "The Philippines should form alliances with other democratic countries that are ready to help us in defending our territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea."

Four out of five people polled said the country should form alliances in light of what was happening in the West Philippine Sea.

"Eighty-two percent agreed (56 percent strongly agree plus 25 percent somewhat agree, correctly rounded) and 9 percent disagreed (5 percent somewhat disagree plus 5 percent strongly disagree, correctly rounded)," the survey said. "Eight percent were undecided. This gives a Net Agreement score of ‘extremely strong’ +73."

The survey also said net agreement was highest in Balance Luzon (areas in Luzon outside of Metro Manila), followed by Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

"A similar test statement was fielded in June 2019, and found 84% saying it is right for the government to “form alliances with other countries that are ready to help us in defending our security in the West Philippine Sea," it added.

On another question whether the country should assert its rights over islands in the West Philippine Sea — 70 percent agreed, while 13 percent didn't. Fifteen percent remained undecided.

The survey was released a day after the Chinese Embassy issued a statement saying the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision favoring the Philippines over China’s sweeping claims of the South China Sea is “illegal and invalid.”

On Sunday, as the Philippines marked the fourth anniversary of the historic South China Sea ruling asserting the country’s claims on the sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin Jr. called on China to adhere to the ruling and that the arbitration award is “non-negotiable.”

“Compliance in good faith with the award would be consistent with the obligations of the Philippines and China under international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) to which both parties are signatories,” Locsin said.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled on July 12, 2016 that Beijing’s “nine-dash line” maritime claim, which covers 85 percent of the South China Sea and 80 percent of Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is excessive and encroached into the Philippines' 200-nautical mile EEZ. 

Questions were also asked regarding China's role on COVID-19 pandemic. The pollster asked whether respondents believed accusations that China held back information on the virus — three out of five Filipinos believed it did.

Meanwhile, 71 percent of those who said they believed the allegations said “China should be held accountable for not immediately sharing their information on COVID-19 to the world.”

Read the details of the survey here.